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Wednesday February 28, 2001

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Letters to the editor

English department working on improvements

Thanks for your recent story on our ongoing efforts to improve the opportunities we offer undergraduate students in the Department of English.

When we won the university-wide departmental teaching award in 1998, we invested the award money in an Undergraduate English Advising Center. At about the same time, we initiated extensive surveys of undergraduate students to understand better their experiences in our courses. The current lively and productive discussion of our major is only one outcome of the student surveys. We look forward to continuing to work with students to improve our major.

One specific point in your story missed the mark. We have had an outstanding group of faculty members in American cultural and literary studies for many years. Recent hires have not only strengthened that group, as you reported, but also other areas not reported in your story. These include creative writing, English language and linguistics, as well as rhetoric and composition. All the new assistant professors are excellent classroom teachers with wide teaching interests. They regularly teach courses at all levels of our curriculum.

Larry Evers

English department head

Wildcat story off base

There's something I would like Professor Emeritus Paul Damon and the University community to know about the people who were quoted in the article last Thursday regarding the English department: They in no way want to eliminate the "Holy Trinity - Shakespeare, Chaucer and Milton" and other "dead white males" from the curriculum. They merely want to expand the curriculum to address the ever-growing amount of American literature. I know this for a fact: I am taking a Shakespeare class taught by Greg Jackson, and Laura Christiansen happens to be in said class. I believe those quotes were taken completely out of context and in no way express Jackson's, Berry's, or Christiansen's views regarding authors who I think most everyone agrees are seminal characters of literature the world over. I ask Corns to check her quotes better next time.

Annie Holub

English and creative writing senior

Forum would bridge ASUA-student gap

I was very disappointed by the Wildcat's recent editorial "ASUA needs to replace mic with handshake." Although the editorial raised some interesting issues, it is apparent that the true spirit of the Senate Forums committee has eluded you. Upon review of the legislation, it is quite obvious that bridging the gap between ASUA and the student body is the foremost goal. This is evident by the fact that this committee, while loosely supervised by the Senate, will be staffed and run by students that would not otherwise be involved with ASUA. Furthermore, the format that will be employed to facilitate the bridging of the ASUA-student gap, and to ascertain student opinions on pressing issues, will be entirely decided by the student membership of the committee. The legislation does not dictate this in any way.

Although I felt that the open mic format you criticized would be a different and interesting method to achieve these goals, it is in no way an absolute. The legislation we passed was intentionally written as to leave the decision of format up to the student membership of the committee. In other words, it will be students themselves who decide what would be the best way to communicate with their fellow students. Whether they choose to invite ASUA elected representatives, or to set up an open mic, or to attend club meetings, is entirely at their discretion. The Senate would serve only as a supervisory body. This empowerment, and room for innovation, is the very heart of the Senate Committee for Student Forums, and is what makes it a great, if only preliminary step toward making ASUA truly representative of our student constituents.

Gino A. Duran

ASUA senator

political science senior

Increasing tuition not a bad idea

It's here once again - elections for our student body representatives. I was reading the candidate profiles and noticed a common thread that ran throughout each platform for president on down to the senators: Every candidate wishes to keep tuition as low as possible. It seems reasonable, right? Well, there is an inherent problem with this. Our university is mandated by the state government to keep tuition "as nearly free as possible," and continued lobbying by the Regents Association (NAU, ASU, UA) will assuredly keep in-state tuition as low as possible. However, out-of-state students can be charged whatever the university deems necessary for tuition.

With this in mind, I'm going to ask an unheard of question: Why don't we raise out-of-state tuition? I ask this because after running for student body president last year, I have done an about-face on the issue of tuition. When President Likins came to this university, he explained the need for higher tuition rates not just to gain much-needed money for the school, but also in an attempt to elevate our university to a higher level. The students, in adamant opposition, forced Likins to scrap this idea and begin the largest beg for money in school's history called "Campaign Arizona," only to even further devalue our educational degree we all hope to get out of this place.

Why are we so opposed to raising tuition? A very moderate hike for out-of-state tuition would accomplish a multitude of great things for our university: It would gain money for such much needed areas as advising and TA funding, and it would force about a thousand students, who to be perfectly honest shouldn't be here, to not come here just to appease their parents. The UA is probably the best bang for your buck right now for out-of-staters, but a rising population is leading to incredibly poor retention rates, not to mention a variety of parking, class spacing and housing issues. We need to rethink exactly what we've been doing all this time under the mindset of lowering tuition. Why don't we make the trade off between denying some students and raising the value of our own degree? The MIS department is doing a similar thing, and I'm indebted to them for not seeing our incredibly high rank drop to nothing.

So as you look around campus and see absolutely nothing aside from construction (as opposed to a beautiful, plush green and wide open area from two years ago), and as you struggle to find a parking space where there are none, think about your methodical response to our candidates' unoriginal ideas to lower tuition. And think about Likins' vision to elevate our school to a higher level in education. And then think about yourselves and some years from now when an employer is looking at your resume and attempting to compare it to the 96 other UA grads.

Mike Schrade

MIS junior

Students have right to smoke marijuana

Recently, my friends and I have suffered persecution. Not of a violent nature, but discriminatory none the less. I am a marijuana smoker, as are many of my friends. My complaint comes from the front lines, the underground, the real life of on-campus students. I am a resident of Cochise Hall.

There are particular RAs here who do not approve of our counter-culture lifestyle and behaviors. In the past two weeks alone, the police have been summoned to our building multiple times. Have they come away with any charges of a substantial nature? Of course not. It is merely a show of police state force and harassment. I was detained by the police because the RAs received an anonymous tip from another resident that the hallway smelled like marijuana smoke. Automatically, the police were shown to my suite. The hallway is quite large, but the cops were directed to my room. Upon inspection, there was no evidence of smoking.

So we received harassment and lectures. The police followed my friends to their room, snooped around and asked many more outlandish and accusatory questions.

Why? I do not have the answer. The entire game of "cops and crooks" my friends and I were playing was a complete waste of time and police resources. Let me remind you again there was no evidence of a crime, thus limiting the police efforts to mere harassment.

I am a full-time student with a job. I volunteer weekly at an elementary school and attend every class, no matter how long-winded the lectures tend to get. I receive equal grades for equal work put in. But, because of my extracurricular activities I am hounded by sniffing RAs just salivating to write up another one of us. I would just like some peace in my place of residence. When I come "home," I am most often times tired and do not wish to deal with the hall monitors' games.

We are all here with the common goal of higher education, but why are a select group of us having a harder time accomplishing this goal? Because we are not being treated as equals just because we enjoy the herb. Let it stop now. We are people, too, and we deserve the same rights as those who do not smoke marijuana.

Reillot E Weston

undecided sophomore

Letter off base

This is in response to Mark Lauver's letter titled "Iraqi Bombing Protects U.S. Interests" on Feb. 22. He forgot the corporate part. The bombing of Iraq protects our corporate interests overseas. The United States has no other significant interests, none worth war anyway.

Patrick Bolger

SLAT graduate student